Air Europa pilots are to go on strike today and intend to stay away from work until the end of the month. Yesterday the Palma-based chairman of the airline, Jose Hidalgo, while denying all reports that state airline Iberia is planning to buy his airline, warned that he has no intention of negotiating with striking employees unless they call off industrial action. However, the Palma to Gatwick flight is expected to operate as normal, sources said yesterday afternoon. Hidalgo said that giving in to the striking pilots will cost the airline around 1'500 million pesetas which he fears would put the airline in a “difficult position.” However, fortunately for the airline and its passengers, support for the strike has not been as large as initially feared with only 80 of the 400 pilots backing industrial action. Hidalgo said yesterday that his main responsibility is “to defending the jobs of 3'000 people and secure their future.” The airline will be operating minimum service over the next two weeks and as a result the chairman is confident only a nominal number of flights will be affected. Hidalgo is not adverse to negotiating, “everything is negotiable” he said yesterday, but he is not prepared to enter into talks under the pressure of industrial action. “I feel cheated by some of the pilots who are the people the company has a high level of confidence in. They agreed to a deal eight months ago and now want to change things,” Hidalgo said.

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